Garden gift DIY: succulents in a driftwood planter

succulents in driftwood

Emily Joubert in Woodside sells these beautiful pieces, but they also make a fun DIY and anyone would love them as a gift. Here’s how to plant succulents in a driftwood or old log planter:

  1. You can use driftwood, or any piece of wood that has some age and weathering to it. Soft woods will make a faster, easier project.
  2. Start with a crack or depression  that is somewhat towards the middle of the wood. Use a gouge tool to dig it out and make more space for your plants. You don’t have to dig out very much: succulents don’t need a lot of root space.
  3. If the crack goes all the way through the wood, tuck in a piece of screen and secure it with a couple of small nails, tacks, or staples.
  4. Fill with dirt. I have been gardening with succulents forever and I’ve rarely used a cactus potting mix. I just use whatever potting soil I have on hand, which is usually the cheapest one, and my succulents have always been fine.
  5. Arrange your succulents. Go for either uniformity or as dramatic a mix of colors and shapes as you can find. If you’re doing a mix, do a spike, a rosette, a silver, a green, and a purple or black. Put in your bigger forms and then tuck the little ones around the edges.
  6. You don’t need to leave them room to grow. Pack them in there like you are arranging flowers. If they make babies, pop them out and repot when things get crowded. If they get leggy, snap off the stems and stick the rosettes back in the dirt. That’s it. They don’t have strong roots so they are as easy to rearrange as cut flowers.

Holiday gift guide for gardeners

gifts for gardeners

The gardener in your life doesn’t just want shears, trowels, and clogs. Gardeners love things to use in the garden, things to bring the outdoors in, and things with natural forms. To that end, Wisteria is always the first place I look when I am shopping for gifts for gardeners.

Small green parrot I love him.

Fair trade ceramic mugs (set of 4) There is nothing better than a mug of hot tea before or after cool weather gardening.

Ceramic garden stool Beautiful indoors or out.

Concrete faux bois pot No plant could look bad in this pot.

Starflower mirror The ornate flower and leaf forms are so pretty.

Rotund vase A collection of different shapes and colors, all perfect, singly or in groups.

Ceramic asian candlesticks Any gardener would love their organic forms and bamboo motif.





A Japanese container garden

container water garden

This container garden is outside of a shop in Matsumoto Japan.

My friend took these photos on her family’s trip around the world. Yep, they literally dropped everything and spent a year traveling around the world with their kids. If you are wondering “how in the world does anyone do that?,” they blogged the entire trip at

But back to this garden:

  • Big, simple, solid containers in natural materials, neutral tones, and weathered surfaces. Sizes, shapes and heights are varied, and one is completely different.
  • Two of the containers match, or nearly match, but they’re not placed symmetrically.
  • While there’s not symmetry, there is balance with the largest containers framing the overall arrangement on either end.
  • More containers just inside the doorway extend the overall space in both directions.
  • The water garden is broken up for more interest. One container gives height and one fullness.
  • If I was to duplicate this so that it would work in our dry climate (and survive our marauding raccoons), I’d substitute the water containers for low growing succulents or grasses.

container water garden

Unexpected fall color

fall persimmon with plumbago

Orange and light blue are one of my favorite color combinations. This is my 4 year old Fuyu persimmon tree wearing its fall colors, in front of a cape plumbago (Plumbago auriculata).

The persimmon had several weeks of  brilliant fall color which overlapped with the plumbago’s very long bloom time. The plumbago fills up a back corner of the yard where it doesn’t need pruning, or water, and it’s still in full bloom. Because it’s almost always in full bloom.

The persimmon has been in the ground about 4 years and is finally starting to take off. It even gave me a few persimmons this year. It seems not to mind the heavy clay soil or me neglecting it. Persimmons are truly the easiest fruit trees to grow.

More on plumbagos, easy fruit trees, and fall color